London: Lindsay Drummond, 1948. Octavo, original pale grey cloth stamped in gilt and green, original unclipped pictorial dust jacket, textured endpapers. Title page illustrated by Philippe Jullian.
First trade edition of the first English translation of Rilke's romantic tribute to his distant ancestor, who died in battle against the Turks at Zathmar in 1660, when he was only eighteen. The Lay sold poorly upon its first publication in 1906, but became a sensation upon its reissue six years later, a favorite of German soldiers in the First World War: “They ride their horses over the body / of a slain peasant. His eyes wide / open mirror something but do not mirror / the sky." This 1948 dual-language edition was, surprisingly, the first English translation of the complete work to be published. Text in German and English. A fine copy.